Ashley at Feministe begins her crisis over the meaning-wars of the term “feminist” as follows:

I hadn’t heard of antifeminist “feminist” Megan McArdle until I came across one of her silly columns today (in which she bashes Feministe—good work, guys!). However, I’ve long been acquainted with Christina Hoff Sommers, Katie Roiphe, Cathy Young, Camille Paglia, and their ilk.

All of these women spend their lives bashing feminism, with one thing separating them from your average conservative: they preface their sentence by saying, “as a feminist…”

So, for example, “As a feminist, I think feminism is a terrible idea. Also, feminists are hairy and mean and not pretty.”

You know how it goes.

Yeah, I do. I also I know how you reduce ideologies of dissent to a mere “it” and move on.

Feminism, at its intellectual extreme, really can’t connote any coherent agenda. It means too many things to too many people to be a unifying term.

Struggling with that fact is certainly worthwhile, but the dismissive statement that “all of these women spend their lives bashing feminism, with one thing separating them from your average conservative: they preface their sentence by saying, ‘as a feminist…'” is…unhelpful.

I’m not familiar with Megan McArdile, but her latest post contained some reasonable points. And some points I disagree with. If she wants an “expansionist” feminism, I say she should have it.

Jealously guarding the term from the likes of McArdile and “her ilk”, discouraging any contemplation of their position by marking them with the scarlet letter, “C”, or compartmentalizing “these women” and setting them aside is what’s really killing feminism.

I happen to think that Camille Paglia is one of the most interesting, passionate and provocative feminists writing today. I also think Andrea Dworkin’s positions are indispensable to the complex development of feminist thought. I also disagree strongly with many of their arguments. They are on two opposite ends of a feminist cipher, and both worthy of consideration.

The impulse to cloak any self-identified feminist in the robes of conservatives, or roll our eyes at truly interesting suggestions because they might not conform to every aspect of the feminist agenda (political, social, cultural, aesthetic) and crowd along decks chanting “impostor!” as they walk the plank, is small minded and off-putting,

We lose too many valuable minds that might otherwise help refine and complicate feminist identities to this leftist brand of excommunication.

Stop doing that.

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